Misanthrope of Victorian literature / THU 7-29-21 / School attended by Warren Buffet / Only playwright to have a New york City theater named after him while still alive / Mushroom eaten with Udon / Bow-making choice

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium (Hard, then Easy)

THEME: FILL-IN-THE-BLANK (48A: Test format ... or a hint to understanding three of this puzzle's clues) — you have to put "FILL" in the blank parts of the theme clues in order to make sense of them:

Theme answers:
  • DISPOSAL AREA (19A: Land___) (i.e. Landfill)
  • PRESIDENTS (22A: ___more and more) (i.e. Fillmore and more)
  • NEWSCASTER (40A: I___, for one) (i.e. [Gwen] Ifill, for one)
Word of the Day: DEB Haaland (30D: Haaland who became secretary of the interior in 2021) —

Debra Anne Haaland (/ˈhɑːlənd/; born December 2, 1960) is an American politician serving as the 54th United States secretary of the interior. A member of the Democratic Party, she served as chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party from 2015 to 2017 and as the U.S. representative for New Mexico's 1st congressional district from 2019 to 2021. She is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo.

Haaland's congressional district included most of Albuquerque and most of its suburbs. Along with Sharice Davids, she is one of the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress. She is a political progressive who supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. (wikipedia)

• • •

"Hello, I am in your puzzle"
There are only three theme answers, they are not, on their own, very interesting at all, and in the end you're left with a one-note concept, which is very very anticlimactic, especially if you spent a lot of time struggling up top instead of just abandoning the top and going straight for the revealer phrase on the bottom (as I did after the whole top part got too annoying). DISPOSAL AREA, come on, how is anyone supposed to be excited or energized by that drab and dour a phrase. PRESIDENTS, yawn. NEWSCASTER, more yawn. The entire puzzle = the moment you realize what's going on with the blanks. Then it's over, on every level. The whole thing just turns into a mediocre themeless after that. No interesting answers to uncover (all the "fun" is in the clues), no variation in how the theme plays out, nothing. Just plug in "fill," done. Again, very sorry payoff if you spent any time struggling with those "___" clues. The rest of it ... well, it's curious-looking, with its slim profile (just 14 wide today). I guess this is what happens when your revealer is 14, and when you don't really have a lot of themers to choose from so you just make a grid that will accommodate (symmetrically) the sad little grouping you've put together; there are only three, and none of them are the same length, so traditional rotational symmetry won't do. You gotta make them all even-numbered in length and then go with mirror symmetry by placing them all in the middle of their respective rows. So it's architecturally ... different. I don't think this is either good or bad. It just is. I'm trying to talk about anything but this disappointingly-executed theme.

As for the fill, it's fine, but there's not much there to delight a solver. I see an answer like IRONCLADS (26D: Civil War ships) and I think "now there's an answer only crossword constructing software powered by a very very large wordlist could love." Puzzles sometimes have very distinctive personalities, and then other times they have the personality of an ATM—like, it's talking to me like it's human, but ... I'm doubtful. "Take me to your DISPOSAL AREA, human. There we can find discarded POGO STICKS and ride them like humans, which I definitely am also, a human, for sure." (Seriously, though, POGO STICKS was the bounciest (nailed it!) fill in the puzzle)

I wrote in WHEATON instead of WHARTON because I wrote in ZEE instead of ZED and then (without looking at the clue) EPEE instead of APED, which got me WHE---N for the Buffet school, and in went WHEATON, which is a liberal arts college in MA—it seemed possible (9D: School attended by Warren Buffet). I forgot who the Secretary of the Interior was, which made the east interesting for a bit, since I mysteriously wrote in OLÁ at 35A: Accented approval (OLÉ) and therefore ended up with a secretary named DAB. Worth noting (to my embarrassment) that before that I had DA- and went with DAG ... I guess the erstwhile existence of DAG Hammarskjöld made DAG Haaland seem possible. I do not claim to get how my brain works. There were absolutely no other sticking points in this puzzle for me. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. [Red Rose] = PETE because PETE Rose played for the Cincinnati Reds for much of his (baseball) career

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:23 AM  

Didn't get the theme at all until I came here. Solved it as a themeless and skipped the long acrosses until they became obvious from crosses. As a themeless it was decent, and relatively easy. And missing the point is on me, not Mr. Charlson. So overall a positive solving experience.

Ann Howell 6:31 AM  

What Conrad said! Solved it without the theme and had fun doing it. Getting the theme would have added a nice little kick, but it was honestly fine without it.

Big Jay 6:33 AM  

Misdirected in a weird-ass way, Trying to make sense of making the answers fit in the blank!! An HISTORIC letdown!!!!!

Ω 6:43 AM  

I liked the twist on the cluing, especially since FILL IN THE BLANK clues are not my favorites. So the solving experience was fine. But boy howdy do we have ourselves some mundanity. I really want to say DISPOSAL AREA is a trash answer, but that is too exciting to apply. Crossing TOILETRIES is encouraging me to make a crappy DISPOSAL AREA pun, but I will refrain. PRESIDENTS certainly have some interesting characters to pick from, but the theme forces us to consider Millard Fillmore, A president not elected to the job, not renominated by his own party, and eventually the nominee of the Know-Nothings. His most notable claim to fame is being just racist enough to hold off the civil war for 10 years. If you were to list our PRESIDENTS from most to least boring, Fillmore would probably wrestle Calvin Coolidge to a draw because winning the top spot would be too exciting. I don’t know how many compound “fill” words are out there, but if this is the best set of answers that fit the theme maybe the theme should be set aside. In short, an interesting idea brought low by a dearth of interesting theme answer possibilities.

JD 6:51 AM  

In my latest dystopian novel, Geri plays a Newscaster married to Dr. Hyde. Originally it was Jeri married to Uriah Heep, but I changed it. Heep was Misanthrope but Dr. Hyde is a murderer. After years of bipartisan failure to lead, America is now a giant Disposal Area and another Fillmore has been elected so now they can be referred to as Presidents. That was confusing. As I wrote, the whole thing made no sense but words just kept filling in. Kind of like writing this. Filled in the theme before the themers but I was too tired to figure out what it all meant.

Hutu Attestto, prime minister of Serbia is a central character. Big Tesla fan. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Oscar you old Sod, I threw you in too.

There are lots of fabrics to choose from when decorating but Toile Tries hardest and I'm impressed by that.

@Frantic, Catching up on two days of responses (helping elderly friend scale down to move). A Seal can help because it stops things from leaking. And not sloppy payback! Hilarity.

@Posters from yesterday, Got home after a long day and read all the comments. One of the best blog days ever. So many bright new people. @Roo, I do pray for your dad's speedy recovery.

Anonymous 6:57 AM  


Frantic Sloth 7:20 AM  

From yesterday
@GILL 329pm AUGH! I knew it was something semi-catastrophic. Stay safe yourselves!

@Z 618pm The Mrs. loves Starry Night anything in any form. Sounds like you had a good time. 😊

Now the puzz...

I could not for the life of me figure out that middle east cluster.* If I ever knew Haaland, I certainly don't remember. Equally lost at 29D (bow-making choice - is that bow or bow? I was thinking bow, but it might be bow instead.🙄 You get my point.) and WOE can "asleep" (39A) mean?? And is "Let" (27A) a verb or a noun? ARGH!

*And if I weren't such a classy chick, I'd have given cluster a last name, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Its 3am and my mind is a sieve. I'll have to TABLE this solve for the nonce. (Love "nonce" - which reminds me: ONESIE!! This word does for me what "party favor" does for @JD. And who cares, you may well ask? Exactly no one. Not even me.

Later that same wee-hours-of-the-morning....
I have my answers! Turns out "let" was a verb (or an adjective!), and bow was bow, which is what I thought, so I'll take a bow.
It didn't help my cause to believe "Oui" had an accent (??). What a jamoke move. 🙄
And how obvious can "asleep" even be??? Oof.

Glad I didn't look stuff up!

I had to go to Wordplay for an explanation of the theme. There's only so much braining I can do at these hours. Tsk. Shoulda had it. Oh, well...I had fun.


Trockmn 7:23 AM  

Wheaton College is in Wheaton, Illinois.

Joaquin 7:25 AM  

I don't care what @Rex or @Z say. I thought this was a pretty cool puzzle. Huge "aha" for me when I finally got it.

Trockmn 7:25 AM  

Oops - and in Norton, Massachusetts.

Unknown 7:26 AM  

Bows in merry old England were usually made of wood from the yew tree. Never heard of elm being used. So there.

Trey 7:32 AM  

I actually liked the theme, as using “fill” in the blank was an interesting concept. Theme answers were not great, but the theme was strong enough to make it pleasing overall

Son Volt 7:38 AM  

Fun puzzle - just a little short on theme content. It came to me with the great Gwen IFILL - not much flash with the other two themers. Overall fill is solid. Who could hate ONESIEs especially stacked next to POGO STICKS. Also like the Beaufort scale shoutout.

Unlike Rex the IRON CLADS always intrigued me. The cannon from the Monitor proudly sits in front of the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie.

Light on the theme - but overall enjoyable Thursday solve.

JHC 7:38 AM  

I think Stephen Sondheim, past president of the Dramatists Guild of America, might take issue with the notion that NEIL/SIMON is the "only playwright to have a New York City theater named after him while still alive."

kitshef 7:42 AM  

Really excellent theme, and well executed. No idea why Tuesday would be POW over this.

I also have no idea why “Asleep” in in quotes. That actually threw me off as I was looking for something other than a synonym. Get rid of the quote marks I probably get that half a minute faster.

My other big problem was wanting HawkS for ‘plugs’, which worked with AwED for making an impression. Oh, and DEB was a WoE.

Millard Fillmore was the last president to represent the Whig party. Of the four Whig presidents, he served the longest as a Whig – two years and eight months. Tyler served longer in total, but the Whigs expelled him from the party just five months into his presidency.

John H 7:53 AM  

Loved this. Solved like a themeless, although it was obvious that something was going on. Then the revealer. Nice. You don't just fill in the blanks, you put "fill" in the blanks. Yes, landfill and Fillmore are yawners, but Gwen Ifill is anything but. One of my heroes, i was super happy to see her here. I am surprised that Rex walk right past her.

bocamp 8:14 AM  

Thx, Trenton for an entertaining Thurs. puz! :)

Easy-med solve.

Started well in the NW, worked the top half, and finished up with TOUR DATES.

No holdups along the way.

Still trying to grok the FILL IN THE BLANKS theme.


Got the final word within a minute of responding to your 1st post yd. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all ~ 🕊

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Are we not going to talk about the cross of UHS with HUTU, when UMS is also a perfectly valid answer for the down? If you're not already familiar with Rwandan people (or maybe crossword go tos) there's nothing but software telling you you're almost there or looking up the answers to tell you whether you got that one.

Also it's worth noting that MULTIPLECHOICE fits in the theme answer space though it's pretty easy to rule out with the crosses.

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Wow. Finished this last night and had absolutely no idea how the theme worked. I stared at it for a while this morning before checking Rex, and I still couldn’t figure it out. I see it now. There must be (or should be) a term for a puzzle that one can solve and still not get the theme at all. This isn’t the first time that’s happened to me, and I don’t enjoy it, but I’m never sure if it says more about the puzzle or about me.

In the spirit of @JOHN X, this one is even more tasteless:

DOCTOR: I’m sorry to tell you, but you have cancer and you have Alzheimer’s.
PATIENT: Well, at least I don’t have cancer.

Trey 8:46 AM  

@kitshef - "Asleep" is in reference to an arm that is "asleep" after resting on it wrong. It is not truly asleep, but that is what we call the numb feeling

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

The Rwandan genocide is quite recent in history, and there was a famous movie about it. I think it's reasonable to expect an average news-aware person to know about the Hutu and Tutsi.

Ω 8:49 AM  

@John H - I half agree. NEWSCASTER is pretty bland as an answer, but at least Gwen Ifill wasn’t.

@JHC - I read your comment and immediately posited a clue pulled directly from Wikipedia. And, yep, there it is in the awards section of his page, In 1983 Simon became the only living playwright to have a New York City theatre named after him. Oops. apparently the fact checker didn’t do enough follow up checking. Wikipedia is very useful, but should only ever be one of many resources, never the only resource.

Suzy 9:07 AM  

Good puzzle, just crunchy enough for a Thursday, although I’m Feeling rather NUMB after realizing that the theme was literally staring me in the face.

TTrimble 9:07 AM  

I'm surprised and even a bit disgusted by the vitriol issuing from Rex. Actually, I'm surprising myself by the fact that I'm surprised, because I should know better by now.

Bah. I'm with @Joaquin and @kitshef: I enjoyed the puzzle and the mini "aha" once I grasped the theme. Let me ATTEST TO the fact here's not a damn thing wrong with IRONCLADS, and not a damning with faint praise thing wrong with POGO STICKS which I thought was clued nicely. (That Rex dismisses IRONCLADS so cynically just shows he is too jaded to give proper justice.)

NEWSCASTER, yawn? I cry bullshit. It just seems to me that FILL IN THE BLANK as a premise for a puzzle has obvious potential, and I personally think "Ifill" was a creative response to that challenge, and -- if you hadn't grokked the theme at that point, I can virtually guarantee there will be a nice "aha" smiling and waiting for you.

Gee, GERI Halliwell seems to be making a comeback these days.

When I saw Red Rose, my mind went instead to @Nancy's story about her debonair father serving Four Roses in a pinch. Anyway, that cluing was well done.

Sorry to hear of your father's illness. Godspeed to getting better.

Oh, I knew you would. :-) Send some vibes my way, won't you, please? For today's I'm currently pg -8. Haven't closed the books on yd's (pg -3).

Kelly 9:09 AM  

For me, OFL's commentary today is one of his best, certainly far more entertaining than the puzzle.

rjkennedy98 9:14 AM  

So glad other people struggled with this understanding this theme. It makes me feel a little better. I had the revealer and got NEWSCASTER and stared blankly at the clue, not figuring it out. It wasn't clear to me that _ was actually not a separate word (since normally it isn't in crossword clues). At that point I went and solved it like a themeless. Still afterwards I couldn't make sense of it.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Puzzle should be banned from the HOF because it has Pete Rose in it.

puzzlehoarder 9:16 AM  

I really had to be hit over the head by this theme to be able to recognize it. Ifill is a name I'm only vaguely familiar with from puzzles. I had 40A and almost the entire puzzle filled in and was still trying to figure out where the garbled Thursday answers were.

Even the Martian speak fabrication of DISPOSAL AREA was a small price to pay for a rebus and gibberish free Thursday. When the lightbulb finally went off I was charmed by the way the puzzle used my abhorrence of tricks to fool me for so long.

JD 9:17 AM  

@Z Maybe Wikipedia should change it's motto to Be Right.

@Anon8:47, Agree.

@Son Volt, I was also happy to see the Ironclads. Learned in 11th grade history that the Monitor was ridiculed as looking like a cheese box on a raft. Looked it up to verify and found out the Merrimack was known as the Floating Roof Barn. Apparently they faced off twice and the second time didn't even bother to open fire.

@Frantic, "Later that same wee-hours-of-the-morning...." That's entertaining stuff.

Nancy 9:23 AM  

One of the hardest Thursdays I've ever done -- until, of course, it wasn't any more. I kept thinking -- as I stared BLANKly at the odd clues -- that eventually the scales would have to fall from my eyes and that then I would truly understand. And that's what happened -- but I really should have sped down to the revealer much sooner. I might have saved myself much bafflement.

When I finally got down there, I had FILL plus the L in BLANK and that was all I had -- but I saw FILL IN THE BLANK immediately from word pattern recognition, checked it via the K in SKEET, and then went back to see what those odd clues were all about. "Aha!!" I said. "Nicely played!!"

A really clever puzzle -- boasting terrific deception and producing much initial puzzlement. I loved it!

I now must go back and check if anyone has explained rumble STRIP in their comment. I don't get that clue at all.

Joe Dipinto 9:29 AM  

@JHC – But Sondheim is not a playwright. He is a composer/lyricist.

David Grenier 9:36 AM  

Went out drinking for the first time in two years last night so this mornings solve was… challenging. I guessed the revealer early and confirmed it with crosses and then tried to figure out which black boxes I should pretend represent the word FILL. I think it took two complete passes for me to realize the blanks were in the clues!!!

Once I got DISPOSAL AREA I realized the next themer was “Fillmore and more” but my brain could ONLY process it in terms of theater/performance venue even with about 1/4th of the crosses!

I somehow talked myself out of the final themer referring to Gwen Ifill even though I’ve seen her in the NYTXW plenty of times. Then when illiterate NEWS from crossws I decided I was being dumb and promptly filled in ANCHOR.

This was a rough solve for me due 100% to my hangover. I thought the theme was cute.

pabloinnh 9:40 AM  

Somehow almost started with the revealer, which became obvious after discarding MULTIPLECHOICE. But then was blind to the obvious instruction of putting FILL in the BLANK for like, forever. Once that obvious truth smacked me upside the head things became a little easier.

Stuck in the NE because I was not thinking grad schools for Mr. Buffet and I had -ON and wanted Creighton, because Nebraska, but it didn't fit. Also spent a long time trying to think of Uriah Heep, which would have been no help whatsoever. Eventually filled it all in, leading to a nice yay me moment. (see also knowing DEB's name.)

Liked POGOSTICKS going up and down, and IRONCLADS is a neat word that I did not haul out of some computer bank.

Nice Thursdecito for me, TC. Not Too Cute, just about right. Thanks for the fun.

TTrimble 9:41 AM  

Rumble STRIPS are placed along the shoulders and medians of roads and make a very noticeable rumble/vibration when car tires run over them. They are often created by an unevenness in the laying of asphalt. In the terrible circumstance where a driver is feeling drowsy, these may help jolt him/her into being more awake. Time to pull over and rest, or get a cup of coffee.

(I recently discovered a trick which really worked for me during recent long hauls. If you're wearing short sleeves, steer with a free arm and rub it up and down vigorously with the other arm. Much better and even more effective than slapping yourself in the face.)

Steve M 9:44 AM  

Yes same here

bocamp 9:48 AM  

@TTrimble (9:07 AM)

Good vibes always coming your way! 🤞

Have avoided any comments re: today's theme; now to attempt to grok it. 🤞

td 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Rich Glauber 9:53 AM  

I thought it was an extremely clever trick to add the word 'fill' to those confusing clues, pretty original and hard to suss out. It took an extra gear somehow. As for the supposedly unexciting theme answers, that's totally beside the point, this isn't Scrabble. The aha was in the clues themselves, which were very well executed. Great puzzle!

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Can someone please help me understand why we are seeing words from a genocide in the NYT puzzle? I thought using the words "hutu" and "tutsi" were banned in Rwanda after the genocide in order to try to remove the divisions that led to the genocide. Every time I see one of them in the puzzle I feel like I have been electrocuted! Also, native seems a little imperialistic. Can we get a new editor who isn't a fuddy-duddy?

Lewis 9:55 AM  

Oh, it’s a great play on words. When Trenton heard “fill in the blank” with his constructor’s ears and this theme struck him, there had to be that giggle/wow that comes when you hit something cool and funny, and when he found theme clues/answers that worked, he must have pumped his fists (or did some equivalent). Truly, this is a tight theme, as there aren’t many everyday words containing FILL to begin with, and getting the clues just right is tricky. Well done, Trenton.

I tried to figure the theme out before getting the reveal, and just couldn’t crack those theme clues. Finally, I resorted to getting the reveal, and when the trick hit me, I smiled, d’ohed, and nodded with respect at being cleverly hoodwinked. I could almost imagine Trenton screaming “April fools!”

This is what I want on Thursday, a wordplay mystery that makes me feel ful____ed even if I need the reveal to solve it. As usual, Trenton, you delivered mightily. Thank you for this!

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
*Whoosh* - That was the sound of the theme flying right over my head. Couldn't figure out the FILL fill. Beside all the awesome people in these comments, the other reason I come here is for Rex to spell out the theme when the ole brain flat refuses to see it. As much as I rag on Rex, I do enjoy this little corner of cruciverbalists. ❤️👍😁

Ifill, yikes. Don't watch news (too depressing, same shit over and over) so no idea who she is with. Got answer by letter/word recognition. Had DISPOSAL AREA correct in my mind, but mis-hit on the keyboard an S for the final A, and just couldn't finish NE corner correctly. I was like, "How is IDEs the answer for Gist?" Har. So after Almost There message, hit Check Puzzle, and it crossed out the S. *Whah Whah* So, a sorta-but-not-really DNF. Take it as you will. 😁

I left a thanks to all who sent thoughts and prayers for me dad in YesterComments (approx. 10:00 pm). I need to add @albatross shell to it, as she posted even later.
Thanks again to all, and really a heartfelt appreciation.

Har, just saw OLE in the grid, next time clue it as - "Roo's __ brain" 🤣 Which said brain is still functioning at a decent amount, as I saw the 14 wide grid.

One F

mathgent 10:00 AM  

I got the three themers without understanding their clues. After finishing, I figured out the gimmick when I saw that "Fillmore and more" was a good clue for PRESIDENTS. Landfill is a DISPOSALAREA, all right. But there's a newscaster named Ifill?

This weak three-element theme needed the cluing to be exciting. But I only put six red plus signs in the margins, low for a Thursday.

I looked up "antepenultimate." What a strange word. Next-to-next-to-last. Is there a word for what comes before it?

By the time I post this, I'll bet Nancy has commented on Sondheim not being a playwright.

Paul & Kathy 10:11 AM  

All those who didn't understand the theme until after the puzzle was solved?

(raises hand)

At least I figured out what it was before I came here to have it explained to me. So I did have the "aha" (groan) moment. And I was just under my Thursday average. I'll take it.

Joseph Michael 10:15 AM  

Is there a term for finishing a puzzle without knowing what the theme is? If not, there should be.

This was hard and not a lot of fun, except for the clues for POGO STICKS, PETE, WRISTS. and maybe SKEET. Liked seeing OSCAR (from “The Odd Couple”) in the same grid with NEIL SIMON.

Also liked the shoutouts to Millard and Gwen, but it was only by coming here that I realized they were part of the puzzle. DISPOSAL AREA gets my vote for least exciting themer of the year.

Nancy 10:19 AM  

"...makes me feel ful____ed..."

After reading comments from the top down during my initial perusal of the blog, I generally then switch to scrolling up from the bottom later in the morning. So I spotted the above phrase before I saw the poster's name attached to it. And I knew immediately that it was yours, @Lewis. There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind.

After all, who else could it be? :)

@TTrimble -- Thanks for the explanation of rumble STRIP. I don't drive, so that explains why I didn't know it.

a jazz listener's thoughts 10:25 AM  

And there is one in Massachusetts

pmdm 10:45 AM  

I tend to dislike Tentron's puzzles a lot, mostly because I find the fill disagreeable. That seems to be in my memory. Today. much less so. So perhaps I almost liked the puzzle. Maybe ifI had more time to mull over the trick which I admit I never figured out ...

Mohair Sam 10:49 AM  

@Z (8:49) - Even if Sondheim was a playwright (composer/lyricist as @Joe D.pointed out) the Wikipedia entry would have been accurate - it specified "in 1983". Sondheim's name went on a theater in 2010.

Mary McCarty 10:50 AM  

@Z and JHC: I think Sondheim is considered a composer and lyricist, not a playwright.

jae 11:04 AM  

Easy. Didn’t grok the theme until I had the grid almost FILLed. Breezy Thursday, liked it, but @Rex is right about the meh factor.

I asked my Xer daughter to FILL IN THE BLANK on the EENY rhyme. She said Tiger with no hesitation. When I told her what the original version was, she was shocked/disgusted and had never heard it growing up.

@Roo - hope everything works out for your Dad.

JamieP 11:11 AM  

There is a Millard Fillmore Society in East Aurora, NY (home of Fisher-Price toys) that ironically (I think) celebrates his boringness. His last words, though, were inspiring. On his deathbed, his wife gave him a spoonful of broth, and he reportedly said, "The nourishment is palatable" before expiring. All the youngsters on this blog, please consider for a yearbook quotation.

Bad Mouse 11:11 AM  

This being Thursday, just dropping 'FILL' into the *clue* was just too obvious for words. There HAD to be some 'blank' space in the themers. To no avail. Rats! Lucy did it again.

Oui over OLE every time; the latter not being 'approval' in any sense of the word, any more than RAH! is. Or YEAH! The only time I hear it is in South of the Border Football matches when a goal is made, and old movies where the matador manages to cape the bull without being gored. OLE is always excited utterance, period. You wouldn't expect to hear OLE from your (office) boss after your doing a PP presentation on sewer system renewal on-time and on-budget, now would you? Would you expect s/he to pull his/her vuvuzela from under his/her desk and serenade you, too?

bocamp 11:19 AM  


🙏 for your dad.

Finally grokked today's theme. Liked it. :)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Gene 11:27 AM  

Haven't commented for a while, but Rex's party pooping of this cute theme was risible enough to get me back.

Whatsername 11:31 AM  

When I was done, I had no idea what I had done. Stared at the grid, stared at the clues, smacked my KNEE until it was NUMB and drew a complete BLANK. Gave up and came here to find out WTH this was supposed to be. Rex’s comment “fine but not much there to delight a solver” pretty much sums up my reaction.

I’ve been having a wonderful time buying ONESIEs for my perfectly perfect four-month-old grand nephew. There are not many people who can ATTEST TO it, but I USEd to be a pretty fair SKEET shooter. Not exactly a WHIZ but I was no slouch with a 20 gauge.

egsforbreakfast 11:45 AM  

Being much more of a theme conceit junkie than a ________ freak (fill in the blank), I enjoyed this puzzle because the idea was so good. I had actually labored through all of the themers correctly without understanding them, and then 🎊🎉🤪 when I got to the revealer.

If HUTU should be barred, shouldn’t SERB as well?

Alternate clue for 5D. Insects on a comic opossum? POGOSTICKS.

Missy 11:46 AM  

Stephen Sondheim is not a playwright. He is a composer lyricist.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Over-faulty-thunk the theme mcguffin, early on. Decided that the revealer would be MULTIPLECHOICES, even tho that seemed kinda desperate. Then tried to make sense of these themer clues:
19-A. Land A.
22-A. B. more and more
40-A. I C., for one

Wrong again, M&A breath.

Great theme idea, tho. Sneaky, how them blanks in the clues cozied right up to another clue word. Viva la different.

staff weeject pick: UHS. Words uttered repeatedly by M&A, durin the solvequest. How co-incidental.

fave ___ins: TWELVE. WHARTON. IRONCLADS. RUBSRAW. POGOSTICKS [with great clue].

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Charlson dude. Real good stuff.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


jberg 11:49 AM  

I had DISPOSAL AREA, but just thought it was a really, really prosaic answer -- I mean, you could say "land disposal area," but I was thinking that landfill was much more idiomatic; then I got PRESIDEN and couldn't figure out what to put in the next two squares. Then, at last, I got the revealer, but was thinking 'OK, I've got to put something that fits in the blank and that will be the clue' I didn't notice that it had to be FILL in there until I got to Gwen Ifill. So I really liked the whole process.

I don't think there's a marina in Bighamton, which explains why Rex doesn't like anything nautical; hence his contempt for the terrific entry IRONCLADS. I was solving in a semi-NUMB state, so I put in IRONsideS at first, and then wondered why they had the wrong war. UMA saved me from that one.

I initially wanted RUBS At for 'chafes,' so I thought there might be some sort of blank-square trick going on, and that 'tea' would work for 'red rose.' That was a nice malapop, as I realized when I got to 'matcha.'

@Pablo, WHARTON has an undergraduate program as well; Donald Trump graduated from it. Buffett started there, then graduated from the U. of Nebraska before getting post-grad education in various other places.

TJS 11:58 AM  

Woman sitting next to Calvin Cooledge at White House dinner : "Mr. President, my husband bet me I couldn't get you to say three words at dinner."

Cooledge : "You lose."

GILL I. 12:02 PM  

Well, OSCAR....I'm glad you asked. Yes, dear friend....I had to go straight to the revealer to see why DISPOSAL AREA was some sort of FILL IN THE BLANK. I kept thinking diapers. I just stared at the DISPOSAL for what seemed like an eternity..What is the world does it have to do with Land_____? Oh, good gravy....you have a FILL as in Land Fill. Hot diggedy dog.
OK...so move on to the others. I did. I filled in PRESIDENTS but didn't like the S at the end. Were there more than two Fillmores? And although I got NEWSCASTER because all the downs were easy, I've never heard of IFILL.
Hardest part for me was remembering how WEI WEI spells his name. I know it sounds like a bit of potty mouth but his name....well, it's hard. I also had an oopsie at 26D. I put in IRON SIDES. I always thought IRON CLAD meant something that's unbreakable or binding as in a promise. UMA to the rescue.
This was just OK for devious Thursday. It didn't make me NUMB. My TOE didn't tingle and I didn't feel over the HILL old.
I need to breath clean air.

jb129 12:04 PM  

When I got POGO STICKS right away I figured "Okay, this is do able" but it wasn't (not for me anyway.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

I think we might have different definitions of "quite recent".

kitshef 12:37 PM  

@Trey - but you are only thinking of one definition of 'asleep'. Another definition of 'asleep' is "numb".

If you were cluing "black" as 'jet', you wouldn't put "jet" in quotes just because some meanings of 'jet' don't mean 'black'.

Sarah Kernochan 12:39 PM  

SS isn’t a playwright.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

You can be a member of the Dramatists Guild without being a playwright, which Sondheim is not. He writes the score, not what’s spoken.

Ω 12:49 PM  

I don’t know if @JHC will be back, so I guess I will defend his point as well as mine. The clue doesn’t reference 1983, it offers NEIL SIMON as the only playwright with an NYC theater named for them while living. If the clue had said “first” or “in 1983” I don’t think @JHC would have opined. As for Sondheim, I don’t know about you but a lyricist for a musical seems like at least one of the collaborators wrighting the play. Or do the lyrics not propel the story? To me the distinction being made between playwright and composer-lyricist is one proffered by writers who can’t do lyrics and music to compensate for being mono-talented.*
My point is simpler, Wikipedia is a great resource, but lifting clues from it verbatim without double checking and maybe even checking to see when an entry was last edited risks being wrong.


CDC PSA 12:55 PM  

DOCTOR: I have good news and bad news.
PATIENT: What’s the bad news?
DOCTOR : You have Covid
PATIENT: What’s the good news?
DOCTOR: If you got vaccinated you’ll be fine.

Mohair Sam 12:58 PM  

@Z - I still love how you can never be wrong and the lengths you'll go to in order to prove it. Parsing the word playwright is one of your best. No, the Great Steven Sondheim is not a playwright, and the clue is dead accurate.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Of course Wharton offers an undergraduate degree. It's a school within the University of Pennsylvania. ( In fact there are lots more undergrads at Wharton than grad students a whole lot.)
The other academic schools are: The College of Arts & Sciences
The School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
The School of Nursing
The College of General Studies

There are professional schools as well.
Penn Med ( The first med school in the country) Called Perelman by no one
Penn Dentistry
Penn veterinary Medicine (Should still be called Bolton, but whatever)

And every student, professor, and pet in every school knows that Stephen Sondheim is not a playwright.

JennyO 1:08 PM  

I am happy I have this blog to refer to. I got the theme revealer and still didn't understand the theme answers. Ditto re Red Rose.

JennyO 1:09 PM  

I also thought of Sondheim first!

JennyO 1:11 PM  

Loved Gwen Ifill. Happy to see her in a puzzle -- wish I'd realized she was in the puzzle before I read the blog!

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I was going to post that I solved this as a themeless, but I guess I don't have to.


Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Good grief, of which I had much today. Never got the theme (hi @Roo) but somehow subconsciously used it to (sort of) fill in 19A. Sure, I had most of the word DISPOSAL in place but I knew it was talking about a landfill even though the FILL wasn't there. Sheesh. Oh, and I wrote in "DISPOSAL site" which really wreaked havoc with my NE.

With ON in place at 9D, I guessed EmersON as Warren Buffet's school. I put in ZEe for 12D but couldn't come up with any Z-ending words for 9A. 15A, I thought "molE" might work (from Wind in the Willows) though I couldn't remember if he was misanthropic or not (and as it was written in 1908, it doesn't quite make the Victorian cut-off.) I don't remember what finally got me to finish in that AREA but I did.

Where I didn't finish was at RENTED, OLE, NUMB. I sat looking at NU__ and couldn't come up with anything. RENT__ could only be "RENT to" (I got taken in by the old present/past conundrum? Really? Gah). I even had 35A as Oui for a while - listening to the "accented" French in my head. My gof, somebody slap me.

So, Trenton, while I consider your puzzle to be clever in IDEA, it left me feeling stupid, frustrated and headache-y so I am not DISPOSALed to give it a thumbs up. But really, it's all on me so thanks for the trick.

Anne H 1:41 PM  

The specific yew is Cedars of Lebanon wood.
My ‘cello bow is made of brazilwood, a k a
pernambuco. It has a reddish cast to it. My 1768 English ‘cello is partially made of Cedars of Lebanon wood from Salisbury.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Wouldn't @Z have been a firmer ground had he ended his post of 12:49 after its third word?*

*That's a zinger!

GILL I. 1:48 PM  

@Whatsername 11:31: Wow, amiga....You and I could probably have some fun together with SKEET.
My Dad, who was an avid hunter, would take me hunting with him. I could NEVER bring myself to kill any animal but I was a good shooter. So.... he took me to his clay/skeet practice club in Argentina so that I could learn trap-shooting. Dang...I wasn't bad with trap and eventually moved up to skeet. I could handle a double-barrel shotgun like the best of them. I loved that sport and nobody got hurt. (well the clay wasn't particularly happy).....

Without sounding too obtuse, is there a reason we're having Doctor/Patient dead jokes?

Nancy 1:59 PM  

@mathgent -- A bunch of people beat me to the Sondheim clarification before I had a chance to respond. (The folks on this blog are really on top of things, boy! Yea, blog!!) Sondheim, of course, never crossed my mind for an instant and I wrote down NEIL SIMON without the least hesitation.

@Z -- There have been many lyricists (but no composer/lyricists that I can think of) who have written their own musical books -- serving as the playwright of the musical. Of all of them, OSCAR Hammerstein is the towering figure. He was arguably as brilliant a dramatist as he was a lyricist -- and that's really saying something.

Go find some Sondheim interviews on YouTube, @Z. (This is not a chore; Sondheim is one of the most riveting interviewees who ever lived. You may not return to the blog for days). Sondheim is eloquent and fulsome in his praise of the book writers he's worked with: Furth, Lapine and Goldman. He is totally honest in his admission that writing the book (i.e. serving as the playwright) is something that he would not be able to do and would never even try.

Next, @Z -- The community of theater writers and the organizations that recognize them do not confuse writing lyrics with writing the musical book. Check out the Kleban Awards, awarded yearly*. There are separate categories and winners for each.

*Never won one. As far as I'm concerned, the committee made a huge mistake. But I've never known a fellow lyricist who didn't feel exactly the same way :)

JC66 1:59 PM  


re: Doctor/Patient jokes, see @JOHN X's 5:47 post.

Mikey from El Prado 2:05 PM  

Didn’t get to solve until lunch hour here in the Mountain Time Zone. Loved today’s comments, many of which addressed the same experience: solving as a themeless. And I think that helped make it a quick solve: I ignored the back of my mind, and didn’t look for the tricky Thursday theme thing, just plugged away.

And, a day late to RooMonster: thoughts and prayers to your dad, you and your family.

TTrimble 2:08 PM  

Oh, well, then by all means you should perform a Wikipedia edit so that Sondheim is rightfully listed as a "playwright". Here's the Talk page where you can argue your case.

It may be possible to find an article, or two, honoring Sondheim as a "playwright" one way or another. Sort of like how someone might describe Bruce Springsteen (say) as a "poet". But that's not some sort of official recognition that would outright invalidate the clue.

GILL I. 2:19 PM  

@JC66...I saw the "old" and "whiskers" so I actually thought they were in the puzzle and I missed something.
Do I need Metamucil?

Whatsername 2:28 PM  

@TTrimble (9:41) Those rumble STRIPs have saved my bacon more than once. Thanks for the staying-awake tip. Hoping it works for me, will be a relief to stop smacking myself in the face.

@GILL (1:48) How wonderful that your dad took the time to cultivate your natural talent and your interest in a shooting sport. I’ll bet you have some great memories of time spent with him. I’m not a hunter either, never was but I could slay those clay pigeons. Have to admit though, I haven’t been to the shooting range in years even though there’s one not far from my house. I’ve tried to keep the shotgun in good condition but I can’t say the same about my aim. It’s probably so rusty I’m not sure I could sharpen it up enough to hit the barn, much less the bird.

ulysses 2:38 PM  

Reds Rose not Red Rose. Calling BS on that clue.

JOHN X 3:24 PM  

Apparently my doctor joke post disappeared at noon Pacific time.

Perhaps it was a technical error. I’ve been around here for a long time and have even paid some bills. Would a moderator have the courtesy to explain this?

By the way, TESLA was in the puzzle and in my post, so it wasn’t unrelated.

I can explain this in smaller words to you if needed.

Twangster 3:25 PM  

Ulysses ... I think it's OK. It's common to refer to team members in the singular like that, e.g., so-and-so was a Met or an Astro for several years. So: Met Gooden = Dwight; Red Rose = Pete.

CDilly52 3:27 PM  

Hi there @Z 6:43 am. Couldn’t agree more. You must be a good southerner to be using “Boy howdy!” I had never heard that phrase until I first met my in-laws the day after our wedding (yep, there’s a story there, for sure). This crazy muzzle would have earned the extreme version from my mother-in-law though who, when she to communicate extreme emotion would not just stop with a “Boy howdy,” but would say “Boy howdy, I hope to tell you WHAT!” My frustration trying to suss out this theme might merit the extreme.

pabloinnh 3:56 PM  

Thanks to @jberg for pointing out that Wharton offers an undergraduate degree. To quote J. Carson, "I did not know that.".

Further thanks to Anon. 1:05, who told me more about Wharton, and lots of things about UPenn that I will never remember.

Appreciate the information from both of you.

Newboy 3:59 PM  

I feel IFILL was enough for a double thumbs up, so when PETE rose into my grid I was ____ed with joy but without means of expressing it! Would have been even more fun had Mrs puzzle pal not needed to explain the reveal. Another good one Trenton 👍🏼

JC66 4:07 PM  


You have more to learn about Penn if you refer to it as UPenn. 😂

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

Anytime you're in Philly give a shout. I'll give you a nice tour of the campus.
Some more factoids... Penn is home to the first Student Union ( Houston Hall), the country's largest open stack library (it was once anyway) Van Pelt, home to the first double decker sports stadium ( Franklin Field) first Med School, first computer ENIAC
(can't wait for the axshuallys on that one) a first-class Museum ( I think they still have more cuneiform tablets than anyone. I think...) And of course several places for a cheesesteak which could convert a vegan.
Hurrah for the Red and the Blue

but really THE most important part to remember about Penn, and really the hundred thousand or so people in University City, is that every last one of them knows is not, nor ever has been, a playwright.

pabloinnh 5:02 PM  

@JC66-To quote E. McMahon, "You are correct sir!" (You know, that UPenn thing didn't look right to me as I was typing it, but I posted it anyway. Someday I'll remember that.)

@Anon, 4:27-Thanks for a very generous offer. I've been to Philly and liked it very much. It reminds me of Boston in that it has lots of history and does not seem as overwhelming as some cities can. Sampled more than one cheesesteak and got to a Phillies game, love the ballpark. If you're up this way I can show you around NH's contribution to the Ivy League. Seems like half the people in the area are alumni who wanted to stick around. Come in the winter and we can ski at the college-owned ski area.

New York State Department of Transportation 5:05 PM  

Please don't call them rumble strips, they are audible roadway delineators. We have three types: Milled-In Audible Roadway Delineators (MIARDs), Centerline Audible Roadway Delineators (CARDs), and Secondary Highway Audible Roadway Delineators (SHARDs). Please retain for future reference.

albatross shell 5:45 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle more than many here possibly because I am a slower and weaker solver. I worked down to the reveal before filling too much of any theme answer. At first I was looking for some black squares that might be needed be considered as being some word. Then like @jberg got DIPOSAL----, and refused to believe AREA would be correct. And then saw PREIDEN---. Oh, FILL IN THE BLANK. Put FILL in the BLANK. Got a laugh out of sounding out FILLMORE and IFILL. Some boundary pushing clues to go with the boundary stretching. Some on my wave length, some not (Red Rose).

Boring FILL? No, not when you were solving and not when you remember the solve. One trick pony, I suppose. But it only needs to do the trick three times, so not really boring at all.

And POGOSTICKS!! So go ahead if you want to, say it: This puzzle had its ups and downs.

Time for everyone to do their Z made a mistake and won't say so happy dance. Hope you all so inclined, have fun. Break a leg. Oops, I mean we all need some exercise.

Yes the wiki article was correct as written. The clue is correct if Sondheim is not a playwright. Which 99% agree is the case. Me, I was wondering when (eu)GENE O'NEIL died. Unfortunately I was an L short. Thanks @TTrimble. I was going to suggest to @Z that he not use the Peter Green article you linked to. That was as far as I went. Z is right that he did not specifically call the wiki article wrong and maybe the oops referred only to the insufficient fact checking for the clue. He is right you should check wiki if you are a Shortz staffer. People here? No way. Checking on things, I find many clues are straight from wikipedia or a dictionary.

Ash and yew are the common 3 letter CW bow woods. ELM and oak less common, but will work well. Some species of each better than others.

May I surmise that Rex authorized the JOHNX deletion since if moderators or JOHNX himself did it there would still be evidence of its existence.

I thought of a variation on the third joke. The good news is the hot nurse wants to **** the patient. My favorite was the Alzheimers and number two was I tried to call you yesterday. Funnier? You have a week to live and I forgot to call last week?

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Ugh! Im sorry. I get some of the regulars mixed up. But the NH reference finally clued me in.
Anyway, your Boston/Philly comparison is very good. I’m no expert on Beantown, but your astute observation of their respective sizes allowing each to be manageable ( not overwhelming) is spot on.
But it’s your fondness for baseball that make me a real fan.
I believe I responded favorably to another of your lovely posts when you spoke of watching the Fishercats with a good friend. Maybe on a patio or hotel overlooking the park? Anyway, glad you got to Citizens Bank Park. You can’t imagine what a pit it replaced. ( Mohair Sam, feel free to chime in on how grotesque the Vet was.***)
Dartmouth has much to recommend it, including its ski mountain. It was, in fact, the only other Ivy I considered.
Last Philly/Boston bit ( if you care)
Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia is an eminently readable scholarly book on the two cities, how they were shaped and why it matters.
It’s excellent. ( of course, it was written by E. Digby Baltzell. Yeah the guy who coined the term WASP. Of course he’s a Penn man. But…. Of course, his formative schooling was in, where else, New Hampshpire)

Anoa Bob 6:08 PM  

The thing that first struck me was the unusual look of the grid. It's a 14X15---how often do we see those?---and the grid art looked like some hideous predator lunging viciously at me from out of its dark lair. Thought it might be theme related. In hindsight, guess not.

Put me in the room of shame with others who didn't get the theme. PRESIDENTS filled in from crosses so I never read the clue and the other two themers I thought worked okay if a little weirdly as clued. Like maybe "I___, NEWSCASTER" was the complete title of a memoir or documentary of some bigwig TV journalist. Should have given that one more thought as I am familiar with the late Gwen Ifill.

I gave the side eye to the clue and answer combo at 41 Down. WRISTS would be places to keep watcheS but the clue reads "Spots to keep watch". I appreciate the attempt for misdirection but using incorrect grammar---singular in the clue and plural in the answer---to get there is dirty pool if you ask me.

Speaking of plurals, there is some significant reliance on POCs to fill the grid. Both HYPE & PRESIDENT get a one letter grid"fill" boost with a single S, a two for one POC. PRESIDENTS is also a themer and I think needing a POC to make a potential theme answer fit its grid slot is more of a threat to the overall quality of a puzzle. And a couple of the longer downs were 8 letter phrases trying to fill 9 letter slots. Those Ss can be very convenient.

Several things, the grid size and black square layout, along with maybe more POCs and fewer themers than we would normally see, suggest that this theme was challenging to pull off. Maybe there are not too many options with this
"fill" format. Maybe it was not only hard for some of us to figure out but was also hard to construct. In the spirit of the ongoing Olympics, maybe any points off performance-wise will be made up for by being given a higher degree of difficulty score.

pabloinnh 7:10 PM  

@Anon-Thanks for the book recommendation. If I get some spare time, I'll look for it.

Oh wait--I have nothing but free time. Forgot.

Red Sox/Jays starting now, so I'm out.

Hooray for baseball.

Ω 8:00 PM  

I had to go back an reread what I wrote because I don't really care about the distinction between a "playwright" and a "composer-lyricist," so the replies were not making a lot of sense. But I see that it wasn't at all clear from what I wrote that I was defending what I thought might be @JHC's position (again - I don't really know as @JHC is an infrequent contributor here). My sole point earlier was one I have made before, taking your clues from Wikipedia is cheap and fraught with danger.

HOWEVER! Now that you all have thrown down the gauntlet let me firmly side on the Sondheim is a playWRIGHT side, he is a maker of plays. Johnson coined the word back around 1610 and he used "wright" not "writer," which are not the same thing!!!!!!!!! Clearly, obviously, and as indisputably true as every single thing @John X has ever posted here, Johnson coined the term to reflect that playMAKING involves more than throwing together some pretty sounding poetry and poesy haphazardly. I didn't know this earlier and only looked it up now because you are all so adamant in your certainty, but that snide emphasis on the "wright" side of playwright was more brilliant than I imagined when I wrote it earlier. Mere playwrites are clearly just insanely jealous of the genius of Sondheim who should have more theaters named after him. Clearly I am going to have to change the backroom ping pong gambling emporium into a musical theater emporium.

@albatross shell - You are correct that I meant that "oops" to refer to not doing more clue vetting. The Neil Simon wiki is perfectly clear, the clue omits the 1983 reference. You are probably also right in what you think about my second paragraph. I always think I provide enough hints but I am often proved wrong on that front.

Swimwolff 8:25 PM  

Wheaton College is also a school in Illinois

albatross shell 8:59 PM  

Nice tightrope and without a net. But if you were not arguing the clue is wrong it is hard to see the reason for the oops in the fact checking. They may have used wiki, but how do you know they did not check it?

But I am more interested about my meta-blog question about has a comment been axed before by complete obliteration? Does that mean the moderators did not do it? Could blogger have standards for sites that do not screen for young folks? Could Rex have done it? Why was it done differently? I do not dispute their right to do it. I haven't noticed it done before. But I still on my first contract here. Anyone?

Unknown 9:13 PM  

If you complete the puzzle but had no idea what the theme was, does it truly count? Asking for a friend.

TTrimble 9:27 PM  

So, good, we all agree: the NEIL + SIMON cluing is completely fine. Whew!

"Oops. apparently the fact checker didn’t do enough follow up checking. Wikipedia is very useful, but should only ever be one of many resources, never the only resource."

There, there, you can admit it, and I think you're gonna feel a whole lot better if you do: you don't know how much fact-checking goes on. And that there was indisputably "enough", because the clue turned out to be valid. I'm sure there are support groups that can help you get to that point! Your friends here are rooting for you, @Z.

td pg -1. What is this danged 5-letter word I'm missing?

Nancy 10:00 PM  

@Z's repeated insistence that Sondheim is a playwright -- even though Sondheim himself would almost certainly say that he's not -- reminds me of this scene from "Annie Hall".

A Moderator 10:16 PM  

@albatross shell

When moderators axe a comment, we can either "Delete Comment" which replaces the comment with the phase ":Removed by Moderator" or "Remove forever" leaving no trace of the comment.

JC66 10:24 PM  


I watched the "Annie Hall" video. Does that mean you're giving Sondheim @Z's email address.

albatross shell 10:51 PM  

Moderators and all:
Thank you. Never noticed what I didn't see. Don't bother answering if you don't want to, but is there some more or less standard for choosing one form of deletion over another?
Curiosity not "demanding" to know. I would also assume since the post stayed up for hours it took one or more folks calling it to your attention.

albatross shell 11:20 PM  

@Z Suggested someone else might believe it once, jousted about how that suggestion was more accurate than he initially believed based on word origin, not its current usage, and indirectly implied once by his explanation of oops. Not sure that qualifies as "repeated insistence". But certainly not a clear negation of belief. You gotta love the scene though.

RooMonster 11:38 PM  

Thanks to all who prayed and sent wishes again today:
(Added to YesterComments list)

RooMonster Late With The Love Today Guy

RooMonster 11:55 PM  

Shoot, forgot
@Mikey from El Prado


Anonymous 10:02 AM  

SERBia is a country. HUTUia is not.

Waxy in Montreal 10:54 AM  

Having just setup a Multiple Choice test, was super-confident that was the revealer - until it was revealed that it wasn't! OTOH, think the FILLINTHEBLANK concept is both brilliant and original. OLÉ.

Great to see one of the most obscure PRESIDENTS ever, Millard Fillmore, making the grid (sorta) - would have loved the additional tie-in to him to be had simply by replacing the answer to 9A, WHIZ, with WHIG, Fillmore's political affiliation. (And GED works for 12D too.)

Certainly rates a TWELVE on my Beaufort scale.

thefogman 10:56 AM  

12D is badly clued. In the U.S. it’s zee not ZED. So how did that get by Will Shortz? The only gimmick that kind of works is 19A. 22A is a clunker.I Did not understand 40A even though I solved it. I get it now, but it’s a letdown. Total groaner.

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

Hard to believe all the playwright flak. The clue is for four letters, five letters. DUH! Who cares if the clue may be inaccurate?

I finished this, basically, as a themeless, not trying to make sense of those three clues. The solution felt...unfinished. Something goes in those BLANKS, but what? Something that would make--and then I saw it, with [FILL]more and more. This puzzle elicited the loudest GROAN! of the year.

It's too bad that the theme entries were so blah, but the idea was devilishly clever. I still don't know from "IFILL," but I figured it was some kind of website. (No, I read here, it's a person.) Whatever. I just saw GERI in a puzzle, and here she is again: DOD. Typical Thursday toughness; birdie.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  




Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Rife with pissers. Unsatisfactory. Rejected.

leftcoaster 3:32 PM  

Filled the grid all right, but didn’t make sense of the FILL-IN-THE-BLANK gimmick.

Gwen IFILL was an excellent NEWSCASTER, sadly gone before her time.

I spent extra time getting WEIWEI, POGOSTICKS, and WHARTON. Now that was real fill.

Not a lot of fun here.

Diana, LIW 5:30 PM  

The puzzle was fine. Even sussed out the themer answers, but not the reason why.

And then I came here and read the explanation. Ugh. That's all. BAD theme.

Diana, LIW

wcutler 4:22 AM  

I have to comment to thefogman 10:56 AM
"12D is badly clued. In the U.S. it’s zee not ZED. So how did that get by Will Shortz?"
The clue asks for what the ending isn't spelled with. True that it's not spelled with zee. But it's also not spelled with zed.
As you yourself wrote.

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